SIOUX CITY | The former Warrior Hotel would receive a top-to-bottom restoration as part of a casino project proposed for downtown Sioux City.
The developers even want to put an open-air bar and restaurant on top of the historic 12-story structure at 515 Sixth St.
The rooftop would offer guests breathtaking views of the downtown skyline.
"I think it's going to be a heck of a place to take a date," Ho-Chunk Inc. CEO Lance Morgan told the Journal on Monday. "There's going to be nothing like it."
The rooftop venue, which would seat up to 300 people and be available for weddings and other special events, was formally unveiled Monday night during a public presentation for the Warrior Casino & Hotel.
Warrior Entertainment, a partnership formed by Ho-Chunk, the Winnebago Tribe's economic development corporation, along with local businessman Lew Weinberg and some other investors, is one of four groups competing to open a land-based casino in Woodbury County.
After submitting its application for a state gaming license on Nov. 5, Warrior Entertainment added some new wrinkles, including the venue on the roof of the Warrior and condominium suites on the fifth and sixth floors of the adjacent Davidson Building.
"Some of the feedback that we got was, it's a great idea but where's the pizzazz?" Morgan said of the group's initial proposal. "We wanted to go all out so we thought we'd add a few more features."
Plans for the Warrior Casino & Hotel were detailed during a reception Monday night that attracted more than 350 local residents to the Orpheum Theatre. The reception featured drinks, hors d'oeuvres, a video presentation and remarks from Morgan and other project officials.
Morgan described the project, designed around two of Sioux City's landmark downtown buildings, with the potential to draw tourists from around the country.
"It has a chance to be our community's calling card," Morgan told the audience.
Morgan said the developers want to return the Warrior, which was built in 1929 and was one of Sioux City's most elegant hotels, to its original art deco architecture as much as possible. Plans include restoring the hotel's grand staircase and second-floor lobby.
Floors 3-10 would be converted into 93 hotel rooms, including 30 upscale suites.
Like the Warrior, the Davidson Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Under the casino plan, the second floor of the Warrior would connect to the Davidson, which was built in 1913 as the first office building downtown. The Davidson's architect was William Steele, who also designed the Woodbury County Courthouse.
The casino's 150-seat buffet and 120-seat sports bar and grill would be on the second floor of the Davidson. No gaming would take place in either the Davidson or Warrior. The two historic buildings would, however, connect on the second floor to the 32,274-square-foot casino floor, would be built just to the north in an area now used for parking. A portion of Seventh Street also would be vacated.
An 800-seat entertainment venue, with seating on two levels, also would be built between the Warrior and the casino floor. A fine dining restaurant would be part of the complex.
"Our goal is, even if you never set foot on the casino floor, you'd still want to come down to the Warrior and Davidson for entertainment, a restaurant and a drink," Morgan said.
Morgan and Lew Weinberg, a Warrior Entertainment partner who owns the Warrior and Davidson properties, led the media on a brief tour of the site Monday afternoon.
Because it has been red tagged by the city, reporters were not allowed inside the Warrior, which has been vacant for more than 30 years.
Weinberg showed off space in the six-story Davidson, where the interior space also has been largely gutted. On the top floor of the building, he showed the spacious windows, which he said would offer owners of the proposed condo suites "phenomenal views" of downtown and the Loess Hills in the distance.
The first-floor space of the renovated Davidson would be offered to local restaurant owners. The ground floor of the Warrior, meanwhile, would be targeted to other local entrepreneurs as retail space, Morgan said. The developers say they already are talking to potential tenants.
During their presentation Monday, the casino developers detailed their plan to cross promote other downtown amenities and businesses, helping to spread the out-of-town traffic. Warrior Entertainment would offer local businesses free marketing services that include Web pages, brochures and electronic advertising video monitors.